Saturday, November 08, 2008

What Am I

Labeling types of art has been out of fashion for a while. It was really heavy in the 1990's. It was very vogue to not labeled a type of music, group of similar visual artists, or even to label a person belonging to a group. Some art historians have been trying to unlabel the art movements of the 20th century. Of course, this kind of thinking (negation of labels) leads to the non-entity paradox, because if something or someone can not be compared to something else; you then can not talk about that thing or person. Without labels, you isolate things into non-comparable islands. Labels are tools and are not inherently bad, although like anything the label can be misused or overused. Labels help us organize like things. Its not perfect, even in science where labels are less subjective, the scientific labels have often failed to organize things correctly. Like all tools of organizing, labels have to be fluid and allow for flux with its use. Some labels loss its usefulness, other labels fall away into disuse because the power structure promoting that label has disappeared. I attribute the anti-label fashion to the Post-Modern belief that all systems fail and therefore we must declare, 'down with all systems!' I'm glad that PoMo points out that all systems are flawed, but there conclusion of throwing up their hands and giving up is a weak response. Some PoMo writers (like Homi J. Baba) are now suggesting solutions to the system breakdown. I'm excited about this new trend, because a thing like the 'label' is a handy tool to describe your relationship to the outside world and in my case, my relationship to other artists (past and present).

I have been labeled a Dallas minimalist by a fellow artists that lives in Houston, but who is also a Dallas minimalist. I happen to like the label, but it needs some changes, so I am going to subtract Dallas and amend digital to that comment which ends up me labeling myself a Digital Minimalist. Yes, I think that fits me for now. But, if someone far more cleaver than me invents a label for my work, then I am cool with it. Now that I have labeled myself, I will give you a statement about my work.


To paraphrase Rainer Schulte from a leture at UTD, in order for someone to get even close to the truth of a novel; one would have to read it (that novel) at least ten times or more.

My work is about abstracting text into an objects/images. I start with text, because words have always mystified me. I read some words backwards, I drop prefixes and suffixes to words when I am reading, plus I read a few letters backwards. So, in order for me to read anything, I must approach a text by process of repetition. After I have read a text, a few times, the meaning changes from the first reading; because I am able to clear up the visual impairments through the act of repeating the readings. The same thing happens with my art work. When I start out with text, those words have a meaning, but after my process of repetition, the text becomes an object/image with a new and truer meaning. Truth of a word or text goes beyond our language's ability to fully illuminate us. St.Thomas Aquinas marked out the word 'being' in order to show that language is not fully sufficient in explaining the truth of a word like 'being.' My work essentially marks out text through abstraction. My abstract objects/images become the unsay-able truth of any text.


Troy Camplin said...

I think you should call your work Con-Text Art

Todd Camplin said...

Con -text +art = conart, that would make me a conartist.

C. L. DeMedeiros said...

I receive a critique 2 weeks ago,
something like that:" your work cannot be categorized"
is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I don't like to think I need to be categorized.

I like your blog Mister Todd>

Philip said...


You say what you work is 'about' but don't explain the 'essence' of it. I could say my work is 'about' painting with a brush (and various implements) on canvas but would that be really saying anything? You will know from my blog that I in an anti-label mood at the moment!

I have to say that I often stop reading artist's statements half way though these days because they are often cringe making. Not every artist (or even many) seems very good at explaining their work. In fact,some are so awful that it puts me off the work. It seems to me that artists statements are just another hoop for artists to jump through. I stopped jumping through other people's hoops years ago and I refuse to jump through any more. I like to think of the early cavemen who painted animals on the walls of their caves - they did not describe themselves as artists nor did they produce artists statements. If this makes me look as though I have not moved on from the stone that is OK. I actually find that idea quite appealing.

Just out of interest what label would you give my work and who would it help?

Philip said...

'stone age' that is!